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Book Review: China Study Family Cookbook

Continuing on in the series of cookbooks based on the acclaimed, and essential book, The China Study; this one focuses on families. Rather than just be a cookbook though that is loaded with recipes and no tips, Del Sroufe makes the transition easy for all. There are not only cooking tips, but recommendations on items to stock your pantry with in advance so you aren’t pulling your hair out looking for an ingredient.

One section of the book that I loudly applaud is the inclusion of cooking with your kids. My wife loves to bake with my sons. Being more of the savory cook, I always thought it would be hard to cook with these guys but I feel ready to try and approach the idea.

The book is a marvel to look at. The pictures are as simple as the recipes and let the food show itself and not get swallowed up in a busy backdrop. The layout is clean and recipes are as straightforward as you get. What I really appreciate is all the tips on each page. Even if you are a novice cook, the tips will break down certain techniques to help you get the result you want with the dish. Some of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients, hows that for easy?

I’ve spoken with some folks lately that talk about how involved vegan/ plant based cooking is; this book shatters that belief. Most of the recipes can be made with ingredients you have in your home, or can go down to the local grocer to get. Most of them are not niche items and can be made by those of any skill level, such as the homemade corn chips, potato wedges, sweet potato hummus or sloppy joes. Heck, you can make the corn and black bean salsa for those chips nearly as easy as the chips themselves.

There are some that are more adventurous recipes though such as the Mediterranean Loaf which I can’t wait to try. I’m really looking forward to making some of these dressings and sauces though. I’ve been getting really bored with the usual and these will give me a little liberty when trying to create flavors I used to enjoy. I appreciate that companies try to make vegan version of things like thousand island dressing, but they are processed and have preservatives in them to make them shelf stable. The recipes don’t have that and are much more fresh because you make them. The plant based mayo sounds like it’ll be fantastic.

The things I’m really looking forward to try and make is the chorizo. I’ve been trying to perfect my own jambalaya and again, have been trying to do it with less processed foods. Having some roots down in Louisiana, spicy foods and heat are most certainly my thing, The ingredients here are all whole foods and this recipe is mouth watering.

You can find more info out about this book and order it at http://www.benbellavegan.com/book/the-china-study-family-cookbook/

The Campbell Plan

campbellWho says health isn’t a family affair? Thomas Campbell’s father, T.Colin Campbell, is a household name in plant based health circles. Not only with doctors and researchers, but he is well known with regular folk like you and me. In his book, “The China Study”, T.Colin Campbell put together data in one of the largest scientific experiments which set out to prove that eating a plant based diet can help deter and even cure disease.

Years later, “Whole” was released. This was an extension of “The China Study” yet it took a different avenue. I like to think of the two books this way. “The China Study” is the why, and “Whole” is the what and who. So where’s the how?

That’s the direction Thomas has taken here. Laid out in three main parts, “The Campbell Plan” brings a level of cohesiveness that may help those that are struggling with the transition to a plant based lifestyle. The first section is a summary of the research he and his father put together in “The China Study”. Compared to the book itself, the synopsis of it in part one is clear and concise enough to get the point across to those that maybe had a hard time following along with the size and scope of “The China Study”. There’s a bit more to the section than that, but it’s more of the what that I was mentioning before. Like a good baseball line-up, the section is the table setter as it gets you ready for the rest of the information coming in the next two parts. Read more

“China Study” and “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell

chinastudyWhat can be said about both of these books that hasn’t already been said? You can see polar opposite reviews on Amazon for the China Study specifically. People are all over the map on it, some opinions have become the fodder for an argument trying to debunk the science behind both books.

Before we get into my opinion, here is some validation for both books.

The author, T. Colin Campbell, espouses a whole food plant based diet based in his research and it’s no secret he has an angle. The thing is, it is based on solid numbers and there is no denying that. Unfortunately, his research has been torn apart by some based on the fact that they did not read it, or the fact he is fighting a system so much larger than himself that his research is simply tossed aside.

For instance, the idea that somehow the Chinese populace eats a diet based on meat and fish. If the detractors actually read and understood the “China Study” they would have known the research was conducted before the mainstream SAD diet was introduced to China. They would also know that most of the research was conducted in rural areas, where they were not exposed to the SAD diet. In the author’s words, “What made this project especially remarkable is that, among the many associations that are relevant to diet and disease, so many pointed to the same finding: people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored. From the initial experimental animal studies on animal protein effects to this massive human study on dietary patterns, the findings proved to be consistent. The health implications of consuming either animal or plant-based nutrients were remarkably different.”

Others who would argue against it and say it’s not science than tell me how? Tests were taken at length. Trials were constant and results were obtained. I’m pretty sure that’s science.

In “The China Study” he not only saw the differences a WFPB diet could have on obesity, but the effects it had on cancer and heart disease. While there is no definitive proof it can cure cancer, the results do say that it inhibits cancerous growth. We all know what is a driving factor in the fight against heart disease and that’s cholesterol. This is because all the processed and animal based foods we eat are loaded with it. There is a reason why our bodies do not create their own cholesterol, it’s because it’s not something we need. Plants do not create these types of issues as they are cholesterol free. When you convert to a plant based diet your cholesterol levels decrease. That is a fact based on science.

wholeSo, where the “China Diet” explains the science behind a plant based diet and why it’s so important, “Whole” looks at the industry and system that keeps us in the dark based on power and profit. What would happen to Big Pharma if we all moved to a WFPB diet and didn’t need all those statins, heart disease medications, diabetes medications, etc? They would be out of business, and they can’t have that. Interestingly, Dr. Campbell writes “the Journal of the American Medical Association states that physician error, medication error and “adverse events” from drugs or surgery kill 225,400 Americans each year. That makes our health care system the third leading cause of death in the US, behind only heart disease and cancer.”

My opinions on both books is this, read them and then judge them. You can talk all you want about there being evidence or not being evidence. Without looking at it though how can you say it doesn’t exist? I’m no scientist, nor do I claim to be. But, based on the information I’ve been provided I can tell you that having switched to a whole food plant based diet my life has seen many changes. I have more energy. I sleep more soundly. And, not to be so blunt, but I haven’t been so regular in my damned life! That said, I feel lighter! 🙂

You don’t have to buy into this. This is not the hippie, vegetarian, bunny food eating trend. You are not only eating lettuce and carrots, there are so many other foods to eat. It is not a vegan diet. You don’t have to be one of the cool kids to join.

To be plant based is to be compassionate toward yourself, to treat yourself with enough dignity that you only put foods into it that are going to do something good for it. Would you put diesel into a gasoline only vehicle? No, you don’t. Because it would wreck it.

The evidence is there if you choose to read it.